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Associated Press, Published April 10 2013

Lawmaker seeks Super Bowl liquor sales in Minnesota

ST. PAUL — Call it Stupor Bowl Sunday.

A Minnesota House panel on Wednesday discussed a plan to allow liquor stores to open on Super Bowl Sunday next year. It's a small twist in a familiar topic at the Capitol, where Sunday liquor sales bills come up each year without much success. Allowing liquor stores to open their doors for one extra day, the biggest sports event of the year, is a long shot.

The Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association has effectively lobbied against broader Sunday sales with the same argument: Its member stores want one day off a week and the extra day open would merely spread six days of sales over a full week. Association lobbyist Joe Bagnoli said liquor stores feel the same way about Super Bowl Sunday.

“The Super Bowl is not a day that creeps up on people,” he said. “We're virtually certain that if Sunday sales were allowed on Super Bowl Sunday, you'd just have much less sales” in the days leading up to the big game.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, said he thinks liquor stores could generate huge revenues on Super Bowl Sunday. His bill would allow liquor stores to open their doors on Feb. 2, 2014 — the date of next year's Super Bowl. If it's successful, the Legislature could extend the change permanently. Garofalo said he opposes broader Sunday sales.

The House Commerce Committee also considered a bill that would legalize liquor sales on every Sunday of the year, plus major holidays, including Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Barney Nesseth, who runs Hometown Wine and Spirits in Wanamingo, Minn., said the state's current stance on Sunday sales hurts his business. Minnesota is one of 12 states that still outlaw Sunday sales, an old “blue law” and relic of the Prohibition era. All of Minnesota's neighboring states allow it, and nine states have made the switch in the past decade.

Nesseth said the liquor lobbying group's assertion — that allowing Sunday sales would increase labor costs more than it would increase revenues — don't ring true for his store.

“It's going to work every Sunday,” Nesseth said, before adding: “I'll take one Sunday.”

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, has led the push to legalize Sunday sales in the House several times in the past decade. She said it's an economic no-brainer, citing previous estimates that suggest an extra day of alcohol sales could generate between $3 million and $10 million in extra revenue for the state.

“If the Vikings were playing (in the Super Bowl), it would be $10 million” in one day, said Joe Hoppe, R-Chaska.

“That's not going to happen,” Garofalo shot back.